To the surprise of many, effective leadership goes hand in hand with loving gentleness.
This isn’t a popular trait in our world today. You’ll find plenty of books in the self-help section on how to be more bold, assertive, or proactive. But you’ll struggle to find any designed to teach you to be gentle.
No companies looking for a new CEO have gentleness as their top trait. And if a church advertises that they’ve hired a new senior pastor who’s gentle, people aren’t likely to flock to hear him.
Paul believed gentleness matters very much. No doubt part of the reason for this qualification is that this trait marked the Great Shepherd, Jesus himself. Jesus described himself as “gentle and lowly” and declared, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:29–30). This image stands in contrast to the bad leaders of Israel who placed a “heavy yoke” on the people (1 Kings 12:4). Jesus isn’t harsh and abusive but patient and kind. He isn’t pugnacious and demanding but long-suffering and humble.
To say Jesus is gentle is to say he’s “not harsh, reactionary, or easily exasperated. He is the most understanding person in the universe.” He doesn’t put burdensome prerequisites or demands on people—heavy yokes. Or, to put it in gospel language, Jesus is full of grace (John 1:14). As for the word “lowly,” it’s essentially the equivalent of humble (cf. James 4:6). Despite Jesus’s glory and grandeur, he doesn’t separate himself from sinners with an air of haughtiness and pride. He doesn’t have bodyguards and private cars but is accessible and relatable. Nothing demonstrates this humbleness better than when he literally dressed as a servant and washed his disciples’ feet (John 13:4–11).
Because of this, we’d be hard-pressed to come up with two words more opposed to the characteristics of a bully pastor, which is precisely why such pastors should be disqualified from ministry. Bully pastors lack gentleness, compassion, and understanding. They put enormous burdens on the backs of people, are hypercritical, and are hardly ever pleased.
Michael Kruger | “A Christlike Pastor Isn’t A Bully” | May 7th, 2023
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